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Contemplating Presentation: Part I, Technology

This past Monday we hosted two great talks, here at CU, as part of our “Circulations: The Futures of Romanticism” series.  Michael Macovski spoke about the history of the Book, with a special attention on the role that redaction plays in Romantic reading practice, and Michael Gamer spoke about the persistent pressures of fame and personal economic stability that accompanied Robert Southey’s establishment as poet laureate in 1813.  I feel privileged to have been able to attend these talks, both for the valuable insights they offered relative to book history and economic literary analysis (two compelling avenues of study that clearly have much to offer the field), and for the important presentation strategies they demonstrated.

Since the talks, I’ve been thinking about these and other presentations I’ve enjoyed, mulling over what it is, in particular, that makes for a good academic talk.  So much of our classroom experience, both as teachers and as students, is oriented around discussion, where we can riff, where an inchoate idea satisfies to propel a discussion towards completeness, where continuity is not always necessary nor even desirable; as such, the prospect of giving a talk, of owning the floor for fifteen to twenty minutes, uninterrupted, to present ideas for which we are solely responsible, can be daunting.  Certainly, it must help to watch the presentations of others with an eye for the specific stratagems they employ, not only in constructing an argument, but in effectively engaging an audience.  Continue reading Contemplating Presentation: Part I, Technology